Aching legs can take the fun out of summer activities — and UCLA researchers say you’re twice as likely to battle painful leg swelling when the temperature soars. That’s because your body cools itself by dilating leg veins, which helps heat escape, but also makes blood vessels more leaky. To flush trapped fluids and ease the ache fast…
Do the ‘ankle alphabet.’
When your legs feel ugh, spell out your ABCs…with your feet! Pointing your toes in the air and moving them as if you’re tracing the alphabet activates the smallest muscles in your ankles and calves, which pump fluid out of your legs and back toward your heart. Scientists at New York’s Binghamton University say this simple trick can ease leg heaviness and pain within two minutes — and doing it twice daily helps prevent leg swelling for 44 percent of women studied.
Give legs a pillow.
If your legs throb at night, tuck a thick pillow under your calves so they’re lifted above your heart. Research in the Journal of Wound Care suggests this simple bedtime trick eases leg swelling for 67 percent of women by helping trapped fluids flow back into the circulatory system. Adds study co-author Terry Ryan, Ph.D., it works in 3 hours, so you don’t have to elevate your legs all night
Put away the peeler.
When you’re making your favorite potato dish, just leave the skins on! Yale University researchers say potato skins are nature’s number one source of potassium — thanks to the skin, a 4-inch potato packs up to 1,570 mg. of this mineral, 60 percent of the RDA. And potassium is an essential building block of healthy, leak-resistant blood vessels, plus it tamps down your body’s production of inflammatory compounds (prostaglandins) that worsen leg pain, often within 48 hours.
Sip a mild tea.
Sipping two tall glasses of mild horsetail tea daily could erase heat swelling as effectively as a prescription diuretic, research suggests. And study co-author Ana Sousa, Ph.D., adds it won’t flush out important electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium. Tip: If leg swelling won’t budge, plus you’re wheezy, ask your doctor if your circulatory system needs TLC.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.